Migratory Notes 124

Elizabeth Aguilera
Jul 25 · 13 min read

Restrictionist road, human barriers vs raids, asylum switch

A 24-hour donut shop has become an important meeting place for workers who cross legally from Mexico into the U.S. looking for a day’s work in the fields, reports The Desert Sun. From midnight to dawn a Cambodian-refugee owned donut shop on the border in Calexico is a weigh station for migrant laborers who cross the border nightly: “I know they work long hours. Sometimes they fall asleep so I just let them.” Photo by Zoë Meyers/ The Desert Sun.

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A collaboration of Mexican journalists investigates stepped-up U.S. immigration enforcement’s impacts on the country’s northern and southern borders since 1993, long before Trump took office. The multimedia project, called El Gueto Mexicano: Migrantes Atrapados Entre Muros or The Mexican Ghetto: Migrants Trapped between Walls, covers the violent border city where the Mexican National Guard has not been deployed, the role of drug traffickers in admitting migrants, and rampant xenophobia in Tijuana. Journalists from Pie de Página, Chiapas Paralelo, and La Verdad worked together is to illuminate “the effects of a devastating policy implemented and directed by the U.S. and of which all countries have been silent accomplices.”

In an inside story of immigration under Trump based on interviews with more than 20 administration officials, Jason Zengerle in The New York Times Magazine comes to an extreme restrictionist conclusion: “The game of musical chairs at DHS has given Stephen Miller what only two years ago seemed impossible: a department staffed with Stephen Millers.” Former DHS heads John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, who, Zengerle reports, behind the scenes pushed back on some of the most extreme impulses of the administration, provided “a speed bump on the road to the harshest immigration policy in America’s recent history.” Now, he writes, “that obstacle is gone.”


The Trump administration expanded the number of migrants the government can rapidly deport. Any immigrant who has been in the U.S. for less than two consecutive years can be put into expedited removal proceedings. Lawyers and activists say the rule violates due process and will cause more citizens to get caught up wrongly in the dragnet.

ICYMI: The father of a Honduran teen who committed suicide likely because of the distress caused by being separated from her father was granted temporary, humanitarian parole to attend her funeral, reports CNN. The New York Times first reported the story last week about the father who had tried to enter the U.S. to reunite with his daughter, who he had sent ahead of himself to join family members multiple times. The family’s story shows how increased immigration enforcement, and consequential family separation, takes a toll on the mental health of immigrants and their families.

Immigration Raids

Of the more than 2,100 immigrants who were targeted in the most recent ICE raids, only 35 were detained, reports The New York Times. The limited arrests in the raids were partially due to community action to protect friends and neighbors from arrest.

Live videos shared on social media are becoming more common as a way to prevent ICE from detaining immigrants and document their aggressive tactics in doing so.

The raids put pressure on many hotel chains to take a stand in the immigration debate, partially because of the thousands of immigrant workers in their unions, reports NBC Los Angeles. At least eight hotel companies, including Hilton, Best Western, and Marriott, said they didn’t want their hotels used as overflow locations by ICE to detain migrants.

Asylum Seekers

A San Francisco-based federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the Trump administration decision to ban migrants from receiving asylum if they traveled through another country after immigrants rights groups sued to stop it. Another D.C.-based federal judge ruled the same day to maintain the ban.

The new regulation, if allowed to move forward, would also apply to migrants who followed Trump’s other rules and waited in Mexico for their turn to seek asylum, showing the hypocrisy of the program, reports ProPublica.

Some Central Americans who have had to wait in Mexico under Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as Remain in Mexico, are now deciding to give up and return home, either through special flight deals offered by the Mexican government, buses sponsored by the government and NGOs, or by tracing the same route they traveled back to their homes, reports the Desert Sun. Of the nearly 20,000 migrants who have been sent to Mexico to await their asylum cases, it is nearly impossible to determine just how many have left.

Meanwhile, the MPP program expanded last week to Matamoros, a Mexican city across from Brownsville, Texas and one of the most dangerous in the country, reports AP. And Mexican shelters report that the number of pregnant women along the border is rising as more migrants have to wait in Mexico for their chance to seek asylum, reports California Healthline. They often have to rely on volunteer healthcare providers since they often don’t meet the requirements to access the Mexican healthcare system.


Border Patrol agents report that they gave pre-signed medical forms to migrants to speed up the process of releasing them per orders from their superiors, reports The Dallas Morning News. The practice of allowing migrants to bypass medical checks stopped in El Paso after complaints from the Border Patrol Union, but is unclear how many received these forms and were freed in the four weeks that the practice was implemented.

Three immigration activists sued the U.S. government for being targeted for surveillance because of their work, which is protected speech, reports NBC News. The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, says that ICE, CBP, and the FBI violated the First Amendment and that their actions should be declared unlawful.


The price of bail bonds for immigrants has surged since 2006, leading more immigrants to remain in detention while awaiting the outcome of their cases, reports Axios. In 2006, all bonds were less than $2,000. In FY 2018, only 5 percent of bonds were less than $2,000 and 40 percent were more than $10,000. The increase in bond prices has led to a grassroots movement of people who spend their own savings or pool money among friends to bail out these immigrants, reports The Guardian.

The government is shutting down a temporary shelter for unaccompanied minors in Carrizo Springs, Texas, less than a month after opening it, reports Vice News. The shelter was opened to address the increase in unaccompanied minors that peaked in May. During that time, the Office of Refugee Resettlement never contracted a legal aid provider as is legally required, reports HuffPost. An estimated 4,000 minors are currently in U.S. care without any identifiable sponsor, meaning that they could spend years in detention, reports CBS. This number has grown during the Trump administration and experts believe it is partly due to sponsors becoming more fearful about coming forward.

Medical organizations have criticized a GEO Group job posting for a doctor to work at a Louisiana facility that can hold 1,000 detainees because it offered an above-market salary for someone with limited qualifications, reports NPR. The job would pay $400,000 a year and the posting asked for a doctor with at least two years of experience who is “philosophically committed to the objectives of this facility.”

An 18-year-old U.S. citizen was released from ICE detention Tuesday after being detained for three weeks because of a mixup regarding a visa that his mother requested for him after traveling to Mexico when he was a child, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Between 3,000 and 6,000 immigrant detainees are estimated to require mental health services, but only 21 out of 230 ICE detention facilities have in-person mental health providers, reports Politico.

Immigration is an International Issue

In his meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts, which some have credited for the 28 percent drop in border crossings from May to June, reports AP. Ebrard said the decrease in crossings meant it would not be necessary to sign a “safe third country” agreement. Pompeo then traveled to El Salvador to meet new president Nayib Bukele, who renewed an agreement to cooperate on counternarcotics and emphasized his commitment to curbing migration from his country, reports The Washington Post.

Citizenship and Special Visas

House Republicans voted against Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans Tuesday on the grounds that too many Venezuelans rely on welfare and that it will give Venezuelans legal status for years, not just temporarily, reports The Miami Herald.

The Trump administration plans to publish a new citizenship test by the end of his term, reports The Washington Post. Critics say it could be manipulated to deny citizenship to more people, but acting USCIS director says it will be a regular, just slightly modified, civics test.

The Trump administration will increase the required investment for the EB-5 visa program, a controversial visa that allows investors to receive a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in an area with high rates of unemployment and $1 million in other areas, reports The Washington Post. The minimum investments will increase to $900,000 and $1.8 million.


About 43 percent of immigration judges were appointed by the Trump administration, just one of the many ways that the president has sought to carry out his immigration agenda, reports AP.

Immigration Rhetoric

An immigration think tank warns that Republicans focus on increased enforcement and Democrats’ focus on abolition has entered the country into a “cycle of extremes” when it comes to immigration policy, ruining any chance of passing immigration reform with a humanitarian focus, reports The Daily Beast.

Immigration Stat of the Week

Americans noting immigration as the most important problem in the U.S. have hit a record high since Gallup started recording in 1993.


Immigration Resources & Opportunities

Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)

Newsletters, Podcasts, & Facebook Groups

Curriculum & Campaigns

Reporting resources, tools and tips

If there’s a story or immigration-related opportunity you think we should consider, please send us an email.

*Daniela Gerson is a co-founder and the editor of Migratory Notes. She is an assistant professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and West Coast Director of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media(CCEM) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York (CUNY). Previously she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; editor of a trilingual hyperlocal publication, Alhambra Source; staff immigration reporter for the New York Sun; and a contributor to outlets including WNYC: New York Public Radio, The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times, CNN, and The New York Times. She recently wrote The Grand Refugee Hotel: The Sequel to My Grandfather’s Germany for Refugees Deeply. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

*Elizabeth Aguilera is a co-founder and the executive editor of Migratory Notes. She is a multimedia reporter for CalMatters covering health care policy and social services, including immigration. Previously she reported on community health, for Southern California Public Radio. She’s also reported on immigration for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she won a Best of the West award for her work on sex trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico; and worked for the Denver Post covering urban affairs and immigration. Her most recent story was California poised to go further than any state to insure the undocumented — too pricey, or about time? You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

*Yana Kunichoff is a special projects editor for Migratory Notes. She currently covers public education for Chalkbeat Chicago. She was project manager for Migrahack 2016 in Chicago. She has also produced feature-length documentaries and a pop-culture web series for Scrappers Film Group; worked as a fellow with City Bureau, where she won a March 2016 Sidney Hillman award for an investigation into fatal police shootings; and covered race and poverty issues for the Chicago Reporter. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Chicago magazine among others. You can find her on Twitter @yanazure

*Anna-Cat Brigida is a staff writer for Migratory Notes. She is a freelance reporter covering immigration and human rights in Mexico and Central America. She began covering immigration as a journalism student at USC Annenberg and later moved to Central America to work as a reporter. She has covered the region since 2015 and has been based in El Salvador since January 2018. She has also worked as a Spanish-language writer for Fusion out of the Mexico City office. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Guardian, Univision, LA Times, and Al Jazeera, among others. You can find her on Twitter@AnnaCat_Brigida

*Migratory Notes Advisory Board: Daniel Connolly, Maria Kari, Dan Kowalski, Paola Marizán, Mirta Ojito, Roberto Suro, Phuong Ly, Fernanda Santos

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

Elizabeth Aguilera

Written by

Health/Social Services reporter @CALmatters, co-founder of #MigratoryNotes. I carry a mic & a pen. Prev: @KPCC @SDUT, @DenverPost. elizabeth@calmatters.org

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

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